The Megaro: London’s Uber-Stylish Steampunk Hotel [Video]


At the turn of the 19th century, as it is today, London was a thriving metropolis where travelers from around the world came to visit. They arrived by train at King’s Cross which is still the bustling hub that connects London to Paris via the termination of the Eurostar. A stone’s throw from the Kings Cross station is London’s most rebellious new luxury hotel. The recently opened Megaro Hotel is deliciously cheeky, uber stylish and, most of all, unforgettable.  

As busy commuters and arriving passengers from the King’s Cross and St. Pancras station emerge from their subterranean passage, they ascend into the fresh air and come upon a jolting sight.  Without exception, their first thought must be: What the heck is that?! The developers of the Megaro obviously wanted to make a statement. This bold and in-your-face hotel is the personification of London. Take a turn-of-the-century grand Victorian building and completely transformed it into something avant-garde and funky, and at the same time, luxurious. The Megaro, is in a word, eccentric.  

The audacity of the hotel begins with the exterior that looks as if a giant splashed buckets of vibrant paint across the facade. This assault on the classical Georgian architecture came in the form of a 5,000-square-foot, multicolored graffiti mural emblazoned across the surface. The building is unmissable. Especially as it sits juxtaposed across from one of London’s most highly regarded gothic landmarks, the St. Pancras station and hotel.

The supercool boutique hotel offers 49 hotel rooms spread over six floors that range from comfy rooms to rock star suites. Worthy of a visit for those who are guests of the hotel or not, Magenta is their standout restaurant specializing in haute Northern Italian cuisine. The Megaro’s other wonderfully peculiar experience is courtesy of a beguiling speakeasy lounge, the apothecary-inspired Hokus Pokus.

Brash, in-your-face, and a head-turner, the hotel was designed to say “look at me, I am here” amongst London’s steeped-in-tradition and at times stodgy hospitality industry.  The owner and namesake of the hotel, Antonio Megaro, shares what he set out to accomplish and the result speaks for itself. “The idea is basically to bring a bit of fun and color to a drab stretch of road, now when you come out of St Pancras, you’ll think: wow, what’s that?”

King’s Cross and San Pancras Stations

London is a big city broken up into bite-size towns and villages which, over the eons, continue to evolve and reincarnate themselves. Kings Cross is a very old and at the same time brand new area. The development of one of London’s newest skyscrapers and countless new developments has made this part of the big smoke a place to discover again.  It’s also an ideal place to get around to the rest of the city, a few Underground stops from the heart of London but also within walking distance to the British Museum and the British Library, cool cafes and bars, and local shops to explore.

Across from the Megaro are the King’s Cross and St Pancras trainstations and the Underground which are connected by the public plaza, Granary Square. It’s a hive of activity as busy commuters crisscross the flood of tourists with their four-wheeled luggage in tow. Part of the area’s modernization is the Coal Drops Yard shopping district, upcycled from a dilapidated coal storage facility and turned it into a fancy shopping and entertainment center with chic boutiques, cafes, and eateries.

The Megaro and Retro-Futuristic Steampunk Design

From the graffiti mural to the retro-futuristic interiors, needless to say, the Megaro is a design-forward hotel. Its muse was King’s Cross during London’s Victorian era and yet the hotel is positioned to cater to the whims of tomorrow’s traveler. The perfect cultural reference to this clash of the vintage and the future is steampunk.  You’ll see evidence of this subculture in the industrial-chic design, coal color surfaces, bare copper pipes and exposed plaster walls, and design elements reflective of the steam engines and train works from over a century ago.  

Richly Designed Pop Diva Suites

Guests will find the accommodations to be unforgettable as well. Each varies in size and amenities from spacious standard rooms with neutral tones to their over-the-top suites. The Design Suites follow the same irreverent style without the steampunk motif. In its place is a homage to British rock and roll as well as the punk, glam, and techno music genre from this area’s heyday and the clubs from the 80s and 90s. Forget drab safe colors, the rooms are techno color and alive with vibrant yellows and reds, rich textures, and countless design surprises.

The Designer Suites themes include Groove Britannia, Backstage Britannia, and Britannia Rose. The Diesel Living Suites offer brash colors and textures along with whimsical statues including a ceramic British bulldog, Harry Potter’s owl, Union Jack prints, as well as ultra-contemporary furnishings courtesy of Diesel Living furniture.   

One of the Megaro’s other standout designer suites is their Pop Diva Suites themed after a starlet’s backstage boudoir from the golden era of Hollywood.   The ample-sized suites are color and texture-rich with cork-covered walls, starburst lighting fixtures, couches upholstered with Harris Tweed, and a Hollywood-type bulb-framed mirror and director’s chair.  The deluge of color continues with bright pops of brilliant red carpets and throws, along with psychedelic gold-painted ceilings and bathrooms fitted with glided surfaces as well.  High tech amenities complete the space with modern electronics, smart televisions, and a Bluetooth Marshall speaker.  

Magenta Restaurant – Haute Northern Italian Cuisine 

Italian immigrants made their home around Kings Cross generations ago and added their traditions to the patina of cultures that gives London its chutzpah.  The dining experience takes its cue from those pioneers of 140 years ago courtesy of their Italian restaurant, Magenta. The restaurant gets its name from the color of fresh wine and throughout you’ll see it woven into the design. The décor again takes its nod from the industrial era as well with exposed coal-colored ventilation, comfortable burgundy leather banquets, and the ceilings adorned with metallic rose-colored butterflies. In the center of the restaurant is a traditional bar surrounded by seats for guests to dine or bend the elbow at the end of the workday.

Although the formality of cloth-covered tables is absent, the cuisine is well beyond your pizzas and calzones. This is haute Northern Italian albeit without the pretense. Expect exceptional presentation, exotic ingredients, and a menu that changes with the seasons. The four-course menu is a must that begins with the amuse-bouche of dramatic morsels served on a coal-black plate. Must-have dishes include the scallop and lobster ravioli with buttery vermouth and lavender sauce with a touch of samphire or the spaghetti ‘alla chitarra’ with oyster butter with red prawns and sea urchin. Sharing equal celebrity with the cuisine is the wine with a list of over 70 wines from around the world with Italian wines taking center stage.   

Hokus Pokus Alchemy Lab

The Megaro is a hospitality experience filled with oddities and one design element more elaborate than the next. However its most eccentric experience is the Hokus Pokus Alchemy Lab. The basement speakeasy takes its inspiration from James Morison, a mad scientist and renowned quack physician who in 1828 opened the British College of Health a few doors away. His life’s work was to create a panacea for all illnesses based on a vegetable concoction.  Like Dr. Morison, Hokus Pokus has not been able to create said panacea however its brilliant cocktails are assured to leave their clients in good spirits, pardon the pun.    

As guests descend to the hotel’s cellar, past walls fitted with odd dials, electric dynamos and circuits, and a horned copper demon, the rightly placed anticipation and high expectations set in. Inside is the eerie laboratory complete with copper pipes and steam valves, alchemy books, mercury glass beakers, and bookshelves filled with skulls and creepy specimens suspended in bottles.  

This rendition of a 19th-century apothecary is an intimate space limited to 100 patrons, most of whom are the after-work set partaking in the cocktail culture before dinner or post-dinner for libations and lounging. The music is one of the main ingredients as well with a wide-ranging mix of rare groove, soul, and deep house music.

As fetching as the ambiance may be, the true star of the show is the cocktails. The tipples are the equivalent of a three Michelin star meal, with one more fascinating than the next in terms of taste, originality, and presentation.   The staff act more like cocktail concierges, conducting a consultation to find out the perfect cocktail for the evening to fit their guest’s fancy.  

Forget about your fruity margarita with the little paper umbrella. These cocktails are a serious matter beginning with the ingredients. All manner of top-shelf sprits on call as well as some lesser-knowns; have you ever tried Duck fat bourbon?  What sets this bar apart is its long list of infusions, concoctions, and elixirs on par with the potions of their mad scientist origins.  Beyond the spirits, the staff makes over 40 of their own ingredients in-house with various techniques from distilled botanicals, cold brewing, aging, and drying. The focus is also on sustainability where essentially every part of the fruit is used for juice, syrup, zest, or as a garnish. Whether the drinks served there to act as a cure is up for debate, what is irrefutable is that each will be memorable and guaranteed to leave the guests in a good mood.    

The Megaro is a hotel experience designed for those looking for something completely different. From the design, accommodations, Magenta Restaurant, and Hokus Pokus, it is in a word, something special. A stay at the Megaro assures that your next visit to London will be all the more unforgettable.  


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